Jun 29, 2016
“They’re walking the stage in caps and gowns and receiving their high school diplomas!” boasts Cayuga Centers Vice President for Out-of-home Care, Rhoda Overstreet-Wilson. She’s praising the achievements of four youth who have been in the agency’s Treatment Family Foster Care (TFFC) or Residential Treatment Center programs. Nationwide, youth in foster care or out-of-home placements are less likely than others to finish high school or go on to college. Academically, these youth often struggle due to changes in home placement and school transitions, lack of basic skills, and emotional upheaval. Anthony, Nate, Kaitlin and Ariel have overcome these challenges thanks to their own perseverance and due to the structure and support of Cayuga Centers’ programs.
Three are youth in foster care, and have received assistance not only from their foster parents, but also the staff members on the treatment team. Colleen Willis, TFFC Program Manager, credits the program with helping the youth succeed, starting with making the right match between a youth and the foster parent – including the foster parents in reviewing the youth’s profile and using pre-placement visits to create the best fit. She concludes that the youth are surrounded with support from the staff members – each one is seen at least twice weekly, including work with a Youth Coach who in the case of these high school graduates, have helped with completing college applications, filing financial aid applications, and assisting with job hunting and other life skills.
Their combined achievements during high school include earning college level credits, becoming an EMT, working, playing on the tennis team, earning the “Excellence in US History” award, and serving as a junior assistant coach for a sports team. Their plans after high school include attending community college to study hospitality management or adolescent education, or entering the workforce.
The fourth youth has been attending Auburn High School and studied cosmetology at BOCES while living at the Residential Treatment Center. She maintained honor roll while taking part in cross country and chorus, and plans to attend community college to pursue a goal of nursing.
Cayuga Centers is hosting a graduation party for the youth, and each one has invited family members and others of significance in their lives to attend the celebration.